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New study shows moms and toddlers argue incessantly

Have you heard the newsflash: Mothers and their toddlers argue 20-25 times per hour on average, a new study shows. Ha, tell us something we don’t know.

Everyone’s blogging about this topic… after all, when it comes to mommy-toddler arguments, we’ve all been there, done that. And here I was thinking my four year old and I were arguing because she’s just. like. me: Strong-willed, independent and determined.

Toddler torture lab

Though I’m relieved to hear that the 60 test moms and toddlers documented in the March/April 2008 issue of Child Development were found to be incessant arguers (makes me feel better!), I do think it’s a bit comical to hear the conditions of the study. The research labs where the pairs were observed arguing a total of 20-25 times per hour on average were booby-trapped, essentially, with “inopportune conditions.” Imagine being in a room filled with age-inappropriate puzzles and inaccessible toys? Certainly, it’s a battle waiting to happen — a mini meltdown cell block seven, if you will. Poor mamas.

The Witching Hour challenge

However, here’s where the drama data gets juicier… Fast-forward six months later when subjects were tested again, this time on their home turf. Sure, it was dinnertime — prime time for toddler tantrums (hungry, cranky, mommy’s cooking “look at me, look at me, not at the stove, mommy, mommy”) — but the frequency of fights equaled that of the occurrences in the toddler torture lab. I’m not so sure what that says about our kids, or ourselves, but the second part of the study — which found that despite the high number of battles, mommies who had a good relationship (I’m reading that as “the patience of a saint” and “with lots of tricks up her sleeve”) with her toddler were able to avert disaster, especially with those kids who weren’t especially temperamental, active or impulsive — is encouraging.

So though I didn’t really learn anything new today about the dynamics between my four-going-on-14 daughter or myself, I am happy to say that this is one less issue I will feel guilty about. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got battle #18 to deal with…

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